Norwich City boss Chris Hughton has fulfilled his brief
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Finally Norwich City Football Club are safe from relegation and in the process have maintained their Premier League status after demolishing West Brom last Sunday.
It’s been a long hard struggle since January, but now everyone can enjoy the last game of the season knowing that for the third consecutive season the Canaries will be playing in the top flight once again come August.
It’s a fantastic achievement for Chris Hughton, his coaching staff, and the players. I read somewhere this week that Chris admitted that keeping the club in the Premier League was the best moment in his footballing career.
At the beginning of the season when he took over from Paul Lambert I’m sure his instructions from upstairs would have been relatively simple: “Keep us in the league.” That’s exactly what he’s achieved.
Chris has taken a lot of stick over the past few months, some of it justified, some of it not. At times the team has been very negative, with the lack of chances being created and goals being scored being a massive problem, especially in the second half of the season. However, he’s made the team far stronger defensively, which is a key place to start when you are a new manager coming into a club.
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He hasn’t had millions to spend like quite a few of the other managers in the division as the club wanted to be debt free before the end of the season, which can’t be a bad thing.
In January he couldn’t capture his two main targets (Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel) – that may have strengthened the attacking options.
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Due to the availability of the individuals and the club’s finances he had to swap Steve Morison for Luciano Becchio, who hasn’t really featured much in the three months that he’s been at the club, and sign Kei Kamara on loan from Kansas City.
Now the club knows it’s set for another season of Premier League Chris deserves a decent budget to bring a bit more quality into the squad.
We’ve already seen the club’s intent with the £8.5m they’ve shelved out to capture the services of Van Wolfswinkel.
It’s likely that there will be a fair few faces leaving Carrow Road in the summer; we’ve already seen this with Chris Martin leaving the club for Derby County. Martin won’t be the last, and some players need to be moved on for both the sake of the club and their own careers.
I’m sure Chris knows who he needs to move on, and I’m sure he’ll have a strong list of players that he would like to discuss with the board to make sure that the club can build on its Premier League status.
• YOUNGSTERS MUST KEEP LISTENING TO NEIL
Just days after the first team secured their Premier League status Neil Adams and his Under-18’s won the FA Youth Cup for the first time since Dave Stringer’s young Canaries beat Everton 5-4 on aggregate 30 years ago.
They took a slight advantage to Stamford Bridge for the second leg, and even though Chelsea levelled the tie half way through the first half they didn’t panic.
Neil had got his tactics spot on and the lads carried his instructions out perfectly. They kept their shape and tactical discipline superbly throughout the 95 minutes, knowing that they had the pace on both flanks to cause the Chelsea defence no end of problems.
To go to Stamford Bridge and beat the holders of the FA Youth Cup is quite an achievement. In fact, Chelsea had only lost once in the competition in the last three years. It would be wrong of me to single any of the lads out as it was an outstanding effort by them all. They worked tremendously hard for one another and fully deserved to win the two legged final 4-2 on aggregate.
They now need to keep their feet firmly on the floor and not get carried away with winning the biggest cup competition in English youth football. They need to continue working hard every day at Colney, and most importantly they need to keep listening and learning from Neil and the other coaches up at the training ground.
If they can do that and keep developing like they have done then the future is very bright indeed, and there’s no reason why they all can’t go on and become very successful in the game, and hopefully achieve success with Norwich City Football Club.
• On Sunday Chris takes his team up to Manchester to face manager-less Manchester City after they sacked Roberto Mancini earlier this week.
Quite a lot of people thought this was harsh on Mancini but I’m not sure. He won the league last season in the most dramatic fashion, the first time City had done so for 44 years. But he’s spent a small fortune on assembling a squad full of talent but that has massively under achieved this season, and I guess the final nail in his coffin was the defeat in the FA Cup Final last Saturday to Wigan.
Three elements contributed to Roberto’s sacking: Firstly, he’s continually had a pop at the owners of the club for their lack of investment last summer, which is a scandalous assertion after the way they’ve backed him.
Secondly, Manchester City have failed miserably in the Champions League since he’s been in charge, the biggest competition of all. And finally, during his tenure Mancini twice blamed defeat against Sporting Lisbon (in the Europa League) and Ajax (in the Champions League group stage) as a result of a lack of preparation on his behalf. For a manager to come out and admit this is a sackable offence in itself, as one thing you always do is make sure the side is more than well prepared going into every game.
Let’s hope the lads can take full advantage of the uncertainty at The Etihad and finish the season off with a bang.